Gran came home last night in the company of Slaine and Aiden. She, frankly, looked awful and had been taken up to her room to rest. There was no word of her resuming management of the Inn. That was left with the people she had left it with.
The next morning Aiden and Slaine had called a couple of people – well, a fashion designer and a mouse and asked to meet them at the entrance to the sewers. There’s a long, slightly damp tunnel that runs under the bay and leads to a place called the Chamber of the Elders. That was the walk they had taken.
Now at the Chamber of the elders, Aiden is glancing around. The place is cleaner, anyway, since Vesper had officially rediscovered it and started dedicating resources to it. There are rats everywhere, he knows, but none of them are in sight. You see, rats can be kind of skittish. This is to be expected.
But they need to talk to these rodents. Well, Aiden does, Varos PROBABLY has some questions about a secret chamber with Baron Von Nasher in it and Slaine… well, sline probably has all the questions.
Frizz, of course, is here to help make contact. And translate where necessary.
“Okay. So. How do we get them to come out? Offer cheese?”
One does not dress to the nines for a trip to the sewers. Still, Varos manages to look fashionable for the excursion without trying, but that’s entirely due to the Twins and their work. ‘Style with practicality’ has always been a key selling point. He’d call this his ‘other’ work clothes, his dark attire the kind of green-black that seemed better suited to blending with shadows than anything purer. His visor is dark gray with a matte finish.
“Yeah, I can’t say that I miss traipsing about theses places,” he murmurs, smiling crookedly.
With the lack of anything alive visible through the shared sight of the others he accompanies, he pushes out his senses to see what all he can pick up beyond these walls.
Miss Frizz has, as is usual for her, passenged here on Aiden’s shoulder. But once they’re in the Chamber of the Elders, she actually throws herself off and uses her abilities to land on the now much cleaner floor gently enough. Then she scurries away from the others a few feet, snuffling at the air and the floor as she goes.
<~ The best way would be to sit still and snuff out all light sources. They are usually afraid of Biggers because they’re not treated nicely. Food would help, too. ~> Suss knows this from personal experience, having dodged her fair share of brooms and kicking feet since arriving in this land.
Leaving the others to situate themselves as they please, she approaches one wall and the crevice there more than big enough for her to fit into. But she doesn’t enter it. Instead she squeaks, calling in her native language that’s passably similar enough to the local rat language to suffice. “Hello? We don’t intend harm, we’re hoping you can help the Biggers with something that will help you too.”
Slaine’s looks have changed a little in the last few months, since a little after she took the Crown. She’s leaner and fitter to start with, but her eyes are also slightly brighter and there’s something about her.
With Gran home though, she seems to be a little less worried – still tired – but that’s one thing she doesn’t have to be concerned about now.
“So what is we’re supposed to be doin’ here?” She’s dressed in her older travelling leathers. In this place, it’s possible she’s not going to want to wear them again and why waste perfectly good clothing?
Not all the questions. Not yet.
“We need to find out about the place under Varos’ place.” Aiden murmurs to Slaine. “And how it links up with Gran’s.” They know there’s a passageway. And that it’s locked. The rats, allegedly, know how to unlock it.
Varos can see… eyes. Lots of eyes. Or rather, he can see FROM lots of eyes. They’re everywhere. All over the room watching from cracks and crevices too small to be noticed most of the time. And weirdly, there’s also some vision coming up from the passageway, opposite direction from which they came.
A lot of rats come out, squeaking, chittering. It’s pretty quiet for how many rats there seem to be. And then something entirely unusual happens.
Slaine, Aiden, Varos and Frizz all start hearing the voices in their head. As if some telepath has opened up a link between them and the ENTIRE rat swarm.
//What’s it want? What’s it want?//
//That’s the mouse from before? From the big fight? See see?//
//I like the one in the fancy clothes. I’ll bet he has fancy food too.//
//The red haired on looks comfortable. I wonder what it’s like under her shirt.//
And similar. From dozens of voices. It’s almost maddening but one finally rings out over them all.
//I know her. That’s Slaine McClellan. And Miss Frizz. What are you doing here, big-worlders? Why have you brought to terrifying psychics with you? We mean you no harm.///
“Well that’s not unsettling in the slightest,” Varos comments under his breath, smiling tightly for his growing unease. Beneath his visor his brow furrows as he picks up something coming from back, and he turns his head as though to look in the direction they’d come from.
The growing sounds from the rats is a bit disturbing, but not enough for him to be distracted, at least not until he hears someone or many someones speaking in his mind. That causes him to gasp, and he turns his head towards the others, just short of grimacing at the bombardment of voices. It brings an unpleasantly familiar sensation.
Suss doesn’t actually notice the difference, as they’re communicating in a language she understands either way. She does try to answer as many as she can of the voices closest to her, still sounding like squeaks to the Biggers.
“Yes, yes, I’m the mouse from before. From the big fight. We do have some food, yes. I don’t know if you’d call it fancy, though. You really should ask Miss Slaine first. We were hoping you could help us find a way to another under room like this one. The Biggers know there’s a way there, but not how to get to it. And Mr. Aiden is a good psychi… wait. Two?”
She turns back to the humans, her little eyes honestly even weaker in the dark cavern than in daylight. <~ The rats say we brought two psychics with us? I know Mr. Aiden can move things like I can, but… ~>
She’s kind of sure they’re not referring to Slaine?
Oh right. With recovering Gran, Slaine’s a bit out of it. The Crown had caused her problems during their journey. She’d wondered why Aiden had insisted on bringing it down here.
With the psychic voices, she actually flinches. Now she knows why he did. She just hopes she doesn’t have to use it, she might not be able to resist it this time.
“Begone, ye vermin…” she growls, shaking her head. They aren’t trying her on for size – not at all. “We’ve come exploring and we need passage. Will ye let us through?”
Yes, two psychics. Aiden and Varos but Slaine isn’t going to out the tailor. “They migh’ be referrin’ to me, Miss Frizz. The Crown … it’s done things to me…”
//Exploring? But there’s nothing to explore here. Just the chamber. Unless… you haven’t come for… the secret have you? We were told only to give that to those we were sure were pure of heart and mind and liver. No wait, not liver. Soul.//
Varos can still see, if he’s watching, those eyes in the passageway, getting ever closer.
Despite Frizz’s assurances the rats are giving Adien a wide berth. But one does run over to Slaine and look up her leg as if pondering climbing on to her. And another makes a flying leap at Varos’ back, aiming to cling if it can make it. That fabric looks nice and soft.
It’s hard not to watch. Which makes it all the more troubling as he shifts his focus away from the myriad of smaller eyes and minds and towards whatever’s lurking beyond them. “There’s…something coming,” Varos warns, distracted by the unknown rather than the current rat swarm. He figures Slaine and Miss Suss have them covered. Maybe. Frankly he’d feel a little odd at having to play diplomat to rats.
The rat making a jump at him will be able to cling to the short cloak he’s got tossed over his shoulders. It’s certainly more clingable than the fitted uniform he wears, which is also lightly armored.
The sudden weight has him expand his perceptions again at the start, and he turns his head with a bit of a frown. “Um. Excuse you?”
<~ The crown has done that much, Miss Slaine? Then I’m not sad I helped Mr. Aiden get it off your head that one time. ~> Miss Frizz can hear the rats moving about even if she can’t see nearly as well as they can, so she turns about and looks here and there uselessly as she hears them passing by, checking out the Biggers, maybe even circling her.
“The secret?” she speaks aloud still. “I don’t know what the secret is, but it IS possible that that’s why we’re here.”
She skitters back closer to Aiden when Varos says there’s something coming, knowing that he has the best chance of protecting all of them, especially if they’re close together where she can help him.
“If they wan’ someone pure of soul, I shouldn’ go near …” The Crown has marked Slaine, as have other events in her life. Though she might be joking. “Ask them how they test that, Frizz.”
Slaine looks up as Varos speaks, watches the mouse skitter in front of her “If yer thinkin’ of wearin’ me, I got bad news. The Crown doesn’ like to share …” She doesn’t move though, watching the mouse, before bending down and offering a hand for it to crawl on.
Hopefully she won’t get bit and if she does get bit, she won’t get rabies or something.
The rat climbs up and there’s a slightly buzzing noise in the link. //Oh no. They’re here…//
There’s the sound of shouting outside as the guards at the chamber’s entrance are attacked by something. Something that knocks them out in rather short order. When they come around the corner, well… it’s four rats.
Four rates as long as Aiden is tall. The size of really, really big dogs.
//It’s the ROUS’s.//
“Rodents of unusual size?” Aiden mutters as he lights his blades in his hands. “I didn’t think they existed…”
They look crazed. Their eyes are green and they’re frothing at the mouth.
“I don’t suppose we can talk about this?”
In response one of them begins to run and takes a flying leap at Slaine. The rest swarm behind him. Well. ‘Swarm’. There’s only four total. But they ARE rather large.
Varos draws the short straw and gets double teamed.
Varos has to smirk a little as he catches the conversation. Pure of soul? He’s…pretty sure he doesn’t qualify for that one. Probably not of mind. Definitely not of heart. But it seems that they’ve got more immediate problems to deal with as the little ones pick up on something else. Or perhaps more aptly, whatever he’d picked up on earlier.
“Who’s they?” he asks, and then frowns at the response. The name, he’s heard here and there although he can’t exactly say where, but Aiden’s response makes him snort. “What, is that what it means?”
And then of course the things are indeed pretty unusually sized, and…the frothing probably isn’t a good thing either. “Damn.” As two of them come at him, he brings up his arm, but even then they won’t see the shield he mentally pulls into place. He just needs a second and some space so he can form his own weapon, the glowing red curve of a psyblade scything out from his forearm and back.
Yeah. Okay. Totally the other psychic.
Dutifully, Suss starts to ask the rats about how one’s worthiness would be tested, and that’s when the ROUSs appear. She squeaks aloud in alarm, and promptly shoves the nearest ROUS back as hard as she can. “Get clear!” she tells the normal-sized rodents, hoping that they’ll flee and none will get hurt by these giant creatures as she and her friends defend themselves.
<~ Mr. Aiden, what are these thi– ~> “YEEK!” She is completely startled by sudden red glow from Varos’ direction.
“So we have ROUS’s…” Slaine actually swears as she settles the rat on her shoulder. Blue energy forms over her hands and crackles up her arms. Calling Earth here is going to be problematic but she’s not unarmed. “Do we have to brave a fireswamp?” That’s a story that’s told around the place, something from the Golden Age – when heroes had to venture out.
“Aiden, are ye goin’ to let me use the Crown?” He has it after all.
While she waits for the psychic to answer her, the redhead gestures and mutters a spell. Gout of blue arcane energy shoot from her hands, right at the ROUS that’s bearing down on her.
“Hang on Frizz.” The normal rats scatter as Aiden begins to move. One of his blades snaps out and catches the rat on the side. But it doesn’t bite in like it does with virtually everything else. These things have magically toughened hides which means… this is gonna take some work.
The first one that goes for Varos bounces off his shield but the second one goes for his legs. Not unlike a wombat, not that Varos knows what a wombat is, it attempts to just bowl him over. When Varos hits it, he finds the same as Aiden. Magically toughened hide. The blade will cut, but killing will be a bit more difficult.
“You want it right now?” Aiden calls over to Slaine as the energy knocks the one coming for her off course. The rat scurries onto her shoulder and clings there for dear life as the bigger rodent comes around smelling of burned fur.
“Yeah, grab it if you can!” The psychic finally says just as the giant rat leaps.
“Didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Suss!” Varos apologizes, just barely managing to leap over the oversized rodent that comes in low. He grunts as his blade glances off of the thing’s hide. “Ugh, what are these things made of?” If they were armored, then he was going to have to choose his targets better.
“-sure that’s a good idea?” he asks as the subject of the crown comes up.
Spinning about, he whistles at the ROUS nearest him, a wall near at his back, but he intends to use it as leverage when he next jumps, granted the things charge him. And maybe it’ll knock themselves silly that he can try ramming his blade straight through its mouth.
It’s entirely possible that Suss misinterprets Aiden’s words. While she’s clinging to his shirt with her tail coiled as tightly as she can manage around a button, she uses every last bit of strength she has to telekinetically ‘grab’ the ROUS attacking them. She doesn’t try to squish the thing, though. Not yet.
“Why are you mad at us?” she squeaks at it as loudly as she can.
Slaine sends another blast of arcane energy at the ROUS. Not really aiming, she’ll be happy if it slows it. “Hey, watch yer nails, they’re sharp!” That’s to the rat on her shoulder. It takes precious moments to drop the pack from her back, retrieve the Crown and settle it over her brow.
Almost immediately her eyes start to blaze a brilliantly green.
//STOP YOUR ATTACK//
It’s as directed as she can make it, but that’s got spill out to the others.
“No Varos, I’m not!” Aiden yells back. “I’m kind of winging it!”
The power of her command washes out and all the others will feel it. Aiden falters and it’s good Frizz is there. That would be a problem if she weren’t holding the one trying to get to him.
Whump. One of the rats just sits down and stares at Slaine. It’s attack, entirely halted. The other three do not. With her crown enhanced powers it doesn’t take Slaine long to figure out why either. The one she just halted was the smartest of the bunch. The other three are literally too stupid to be told to do anything.
Which is what Frizz discovers too. When she shouts her question it looks at her dumbly, then gets angry, then snarls and tries to bite Aiden. And Frizz. When that fails it begins to hiss and spit on them.
“Oh ew.” Aiden says. “Can you hold it?” He’s looking warily at the others. Do they have it handled?
Varos is attacked again. This time the big rat tries to grab his pant leg. This will be made difficult by the psychic shield he’s put up but never let it be said that it wasn’t determined. Stupid yes, but determined. That should give him a chance to hit this thing, and hard.
Slaine? Well. Slaine hears scrabbling behind her. As flaming rodent – on fire from her energy blasts – launches itself at her again.
“Wonderful.” Varos really can’t object when Slaine’s already put the thing on, and her command pierces right through his mind with such force that he stumbles back against the wall, his psyblade fizzing out. He shakes his head, thankful his shield doesn’t count as an attack as he sees the dumb rat still scrabbling at it.
A grim smile pulling at the corners of his lips, he reverses the shield’s curvature from him with a thought, turning it into a bubble to encapsulate the beast’s head. Hey, if stabbing didn’t work, how about suffocation?
Miss Frizz is well and truly freaked out by these huge rodents. When the one she’s holding snarls and snaps and starts SPITTING at her and Aiden, she hisses back and not entirely intentionally slings it across the room at full force.
This is the amount of force that she once used to topple a huge stone wall. She doesn’t let go of it, though.
Slaine snarls as the Crown takes hold of her, her eyes shining. “Watch yer backs …” she grates out, the arcane power wrapping up her arms as she calls her magic to her.
Fire is not her element but that doesn’t mean she can’t use it. She just can’t use it well. Stepping to the side (and miraculously not tripping over), she lets the burning ROUS blunder past her as she lets the spell she’s chanting loose.
The spell should grab the flames on the rodent, immolate it and flare out to the ones that are remaining. Of course … she won’t have much control over it.
The rodent near Varos starts to struggle. After a short while it stops. Suffocation. Being tough against psychic blades is one thing but if you still have to breathe, you still have to breathe.
Slaine’s flaming rat and Frizz’s flying rat cross paths in the night, one going over the other. Both expire messily. And in Slaine’s case, well, the entire place now smells like burnt hair…
Aiden sighs. “Slaine, get that thing off you.” He knows what’s happened before. He’ll snatch it away if he has to. “Is everyone else okay? Where are the rats?”
Expelling a sigh of relief, Varos pushes away from the wall, dropping his hold of the shield as he moves to toe at the dead rodent. Although the sudden flare-up from Slaine’s spell has him toss up another, broader shield to catch the wash of flames.
“Seconding Aiden,” he votes, forcing a grin. “As for the rats? I figure they knew better than to stay away from here than get barbecued. So, any more surprises?”
Aiden, Miss Frizz, Slaine and Varos head down into the depths beneath Vesper to try sussing out some secrets from the locals.
May 09, 2412